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Spring Clean Your Medications

As you finish your spring cleaning this year, keep in mind that cleanliness goes beyond a sparkly bathroom and kitchen. Take your medicine cabinet for example—how many medications do you have stored in there that have long since expired or serve no purpose anymore? Here’s how you can spring clean your medicine cabinet to avoid accidents or misuse.

Check dates
From ointments to pills, start by checking every expiration date and discard anything that has passed it. Some medications just lose their effectiveness, but others can actually become toxic when expired. For prescriptions without expiration dates, discard after one year.

Look for discoloration or odd smells
Some medications that have been exposed to light, steam or water can change color or smell funky after a while. These are signs to discard them immediately.

Ditch unmarked containers
If you swapped a container and no longer know what medication is inside, discard it. In the future, make sure you label any medications you plan on storing outside the original containers.

Discard properly
There’s a proper way to dispose of medications. Don’t just toss them in the trash or flush them down the toilet, as this can cause harm to the environment or potentially end up in someone else’s hands. Here’s how to discard them properly:

  • Place your medications in a plastic bag. Add a little water to dissolve pills.
  • Put kitty litter, saw dust, dirt or any other non-edible material inside so kids and animals aren’t tempted to eat the bag.
  • Seal the bag and throw in trash.
  • Remove the labels on leftover pill bottles before recycling.

If you’re uncomfortable throwing away your medications at home, you can choose to do it at your local pharmacy or police station. Interested in doing it for a cause? National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses the crucial public safety and public health issue dealing with the misuse of prescription drugs. Click here for dates and information. You can find a convenient collection site here.